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Eni: Italian energy company bows to Russian requirements for gas payments

2022-05-18T00:02:37.725Z

One account in euros, one in rubles: Italy's energy supplier Eni complies with the Russian announcement for future gas deliveries. The step should be closely observed in Brussels.



Enlarge image

Eni headquarters in Rome (archive image)

Photo: ALESSANDRO BIANCHI / REUTERS

Italy covers 95 percent of its gas needs with imports, of which around 40 percent came from Russia in 2021.

Germany is in a similar situation.

This makes relations with Russia particularly complicated after its war of aggression against Ukraine.

The Italian energy company Eni is now apparently bowing to the Russian requirements for the payment of gas deliveries.

The company will open an account in euros and one in rubles with Gazprombank "in the coming days," Eni said on Tuesday.

In this way, the payment obligations in euros can be met, and the Russian bank will then convert them into rubles.

Russian President Vladimir Putin had ordered gas deliveries to be paid for in rubles.

The Europeans see this as a subsequent change in the applicable treaties and reject this.

Companies complying with Russian demands risk being prosecuted for violating EU sanctions.

According to Eni, the Russian authorities confirmed that "invoicing and payment will continue to be made in euros" and "an operator of the Moscow Stock Exchange will carry out the conversion into rubles within 48 hours without the involvement of the Central Bank of Russia".

Initially, Moscow had envisaged a conversion mechanism via the central bank, but this would clearly violate EU sanctions.

Another Kremlin decree then introduced a new two-step payment procedure, first depositing into one Gazprombank account in euros or dollars and then converting into rubles into a second account at the same institution.

On Tuesday, however, a spokesman for the EU Commission confirmed that even opening a ruble account with Gazprombank constitutes a violation of EU sanctions.

States should control requirements themselves

However, the spokesman also stressed that it is up to the authorities of the EU member states to enforce compliance with the jointly agreed sanctions.

In the event of omissions, Brussels could initiate EU infringement proceedings against the member states.

When deciding to adapt to the new payment system via Gazprombank, Eni referred to agreements with the Italian authorities.

It's about avoiding "a potential disruption to the gas supply," the company said.

The Italian state holds a good 30 percent of Eni's shares.

The German Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) had assured on Monday that the EU requirements for gas payments would be met.

However, he remained vague on the details.

For example, it was initially unclear whether German importers would open ruble accounts with Gazprombank.

jok/AFP

Source: spiegel

All news articles on 2022-05-18

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